Bush, Rumsfeld Pledge Support to Military
By Linda D. Kozaryn and Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2001 As the armed forces welcomed Donald H. Rumsfeld here Jan. 26, the nation's 21st defense secretary, in turn, saluted those he was about to lead.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) greets Jack Tilley, sergeant major of the Army, at a reception at the Pentagon Jan. 26, 2001, following a Full Honors Ceremony welcoming Rumsfeld to office as the nation's 21st defense secretary. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"The president and I believe that the men and women who freely elect to wear the countrys uniform deserve not only our respect, but our support, and yes, our appreciation," Rumsfeld said. Those who serve in times of conflict deserve not only our thanks for their sacrifice, but our commitment to value every veteran."
Pulling a folded page from his pocket, he then read a message from President Bush pledging his support to Americas service members and the men and women who support them and their families.
"Your service in the cause of freedom is both noble and extraordinary," the president wrote. "Because of you, America is strong and the flame of freedom burns brighter than at any time in history.
"Your country can never repay you for the sacrifices and hardships you endure, but we are grateful for the liberties we enjoy every day because of your service," Bush said.
Recalling a story from the Reagan Administration, Rumsfeld made a pledge of his own.
A young GI on the front line in Germany asked our ambassador there if he ever got to see the president. Our ambassador replied that sometimes he did.
"'Well,' the GI said, 'you tell the president we're proud to be here and we ain't afraid of anybody.'
"A few weeks later, the ambassador saw the president and he passed along the GI's message. Not long after that back in Germany the GI was listening to the president's weekly radio address on American Forces Radio.
"When he heard Ronald Reagan tell the story of a message sent by a GI in Germany through our ambassador, the soldier ran out of the quarters down through the company area shouting, 'The system works. The system works.'"
"On behalf of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and the civilian and military leadership here in the Defense Department, I make this pledge today, to every man and woman wearing a uniform. We will work to make the system work.
Work so that you can serve with pride and know that service to our nation is a sacred calling, he said. Work so that America and her friends and allies are strong and secure. Work so that the cause of freedom will better bind the community of nations, seeking, not conflict, but common purpose.
Rumsfeld also said he would work with the diplomatic and the intelligence communities to "arm the president with the options the information and capabilities needed to defend American interests and to pursue every avenue to keep the peace.
Rumsfeld was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in after the Inauguration Jan. 20. He was ceremonially sworn in at the White House Jan. 26 and the Joint Chiefs of Staff hosted the welcome ceremony for him later in the afternoon.
Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Rumsfeld is the perfect pick for the Pentagon. He proved by his actions that he understands the importance of maintaining a robust military capability as the best way to deter aggression ensure stability and prevent war, the chairman said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, the retired Army four-star who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, sat in the front row of the VIP section on the River Parade Field. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, sat nearby as did former defense secretaries Caspar Weinberger and Frank Carlucci.
In his remarks, Rumsfeld contrasted the world situation when he was secretary from 1975-1977 to today. Twenty-five years ago, Warsaw was the name of a military pact opposed to the ways of the West, he said. Today Warsaw is the capital of a new member of NATO.
Twenty-five years ago, American freedom was menaced by the Soviet Empire and a wall cut not just Europe, but a world in two. Today that empire is no more, the wall is down and the Cold War is over.
Rumsfeld listed President Bushs three goals for the military: to strengthen the bond of trust with the American military, to protect the American people both from attack and from threats of terror and to build a military that takes advantage of remarkable new technologies to confront the threats of this new century.
Reaching those goals is a matter of mission and of mindset, he said. Among the things we must combat is the sense that we have all the time in the world to get to the task that's at hand.
Some people sense that the United States "cant or neednt act because the world is changing," Rumsfeld said. That were in a transition period between the Cold War and the next era -- whatever it may be. That we can wait until things shake out and settle down a bit.
But Rumsfeld posited constant change might be the new status quo for the world.
We may not be in the process of a transition to something that will follow the Cold War, he said. Rather we may be in a period of continuing change, and, if so, the sooner we wrap our heads around that fact, the sooner we can get about the business of making this nation and its citizens as safe and secure as they must be in our new national security environment.
The country is safer now from nuclear war, Rumsfeld said, but more vulnerable now to suitcase bombs, to cyberterrorists, to raw and random violence of the outlaw regime.
Keeping America safe in a dangerous world is within the countrys reach provided we work now and we work together to shape budgets, programs, strategies and force structure to meet threats we face and those that are emerging," he said.
The changes we make in our defense posture, the innovations we introduce, take time to be made part of a great military force, Rumsfeld continued. We need to get about the business of making these changes now in order to remain strong not just in this decade, but in decades to come.